For the first time since 2009, the Internal Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released updated guidelines for intrinsic in-game advertisements. It’s important to emphasize the word “intrinsic” here. When these guidelines were originally written, intrinsic in-game ads were a foreign concept with no definition. Instead, most in-game ads were understood to be hard-coded into the game, interstitials that interrupted gameplay, or ads adjacent to the gameplay that essentially functioned like a banner ad.
Frameplay was founded by gamers, for gamers. Since 2018, our team has been passionate and committed to making in-game ads better for gamers, developers and advertisers alike. This naturally led us to develop intrinsic in-game advertisements; the key distinction being these ads are designed to work in the game’s environment and enhance it, never disrupting the gamer’s experience. Frameplay’s advertising capability is authentic to the gaming experience. As gamers ourselves, it was the only way we could approach our work. Frameplay developed, improved, and launched our technology with validation from independent studies, well past the industry standards of the time, because we knew it was the right thing to do for the gaming community and brands.
That brings us back to the IAB’s new guidelines, titled “Intrinsic In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines 2.0”, and how monumental it is for our industry. Leaders at Frameplay were honored to take part in the IAB’s Intrinsic In-Game Measurement Task Force as Co-chair of the IAB Gaming and Esports Committee. We helped define and expand the rules, regulations and understanding around how in-game ads are measured.
Why update in-game measurements now?
Consider the gaming landscape back in 2009: The Nintendo Wii, only two years old, was dominating the console wars. Minecraft wouldn’t launch until November. Mobile games were still relatively new; future titan Angry Birds launched in December of that year. Online gaming was certainly a thing, but nowhere near as accessible as it is today.
The measurements of 2009 don’t work with the technological realities of 2022. Even after viewability standards were defined in 2014, there simply wasn’t a universal understanding of how to measure in-game ads. That said, guidelines for in-game measurements were long overdue.
Why is the IAB creating guidelines for intrinsic in-game measurements?
In short, because they’re the best version of in-game ads and they should be measured properly. Intrinsic in-game ads had a moment in the sun in the early to mid 2000’s when Massive Incorporated created an SDK to support them. Unfortunately, the technology was a bit ahead of its time; there weren’t industry standards to support this innovation. Perhaps the biggest hurdle it faced was there wasn’t an easily recognized way to measure it.
Frameplay took the time to make verifiable measurement capability uniquely bespoke to the gaming world, specifically to intrinsic in-game advertising. Attention metrics, like Frameplay’s Intrinsic Time-in-View (ITiV), offer valuable insights to brands and developers using intrinsic in-game ads, paving the way for the future of in-game ads, but they weren’t widely known or recognized by the industry—until now. Almost as important as developing the bespoke industry-leading technology, Frameplay has been sitting at the table to develop the right industry-aligned taxonomy and measurement standards for intrinsic in-game advertising. We have been working to educate and inspire the industry that intrinsic in-game advertising is the future of in-game advertising.
The 2.0 Guidelines define and elaborate on Intrinsic In-Game Advertising, Viewability, and how to report these measurements in great detail. The 41-page guideline covers this in great detail, but we’ve got a few high level points worth knowing.
Three Key Takeaways from the IAB’s Intrinsic In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines 2.0
We can now define what is (and isn’t) an In-Game Ad
In the IAB’s words, “The scope of these Guidelines is intended to cover In-Game ad placements served by an ad server with a corresponding ad session.” This might seem obvious, but this gives us a clear understanding of what makes intrinsic in-game ads unique. The IAB elaborates on this, defining intrinsic in-game ads as “ads embedded in computer and video games; typically integrated within computer/console games and mobile games.”, but also covering environments like Desktop Web and AR/VR platforms.
Just as important, the IAB clearly states these guidelines are separate from measurements for Interstitial Ads, Banner (Web Based) ads, and in-stream or outstream video ads. These clear delineations show how intrinsic in-game ads are different from all other types of digital ads, in-game or not, and help advertisers plan their campaigns accordingly.
There’s a firm definition of what Viewability means for intrinsic in-game ads
Viewability isn’t counted unless two simple criteria are met:
- Pixel Requirement: Greater than or equal to 50% of the pixels [of the intended creative] in the advertisement were visible from the game player’s perspective or on the game player’s screen on a fully downloaded (where necessary for gameplay), opened, initialized application or software, on the viewable space of the device, and
- Time Requirement: The time the pixel requirement is met was greater than or equal to one continuous second, post ad render (Impression measurement).
Furthermore, viewability doesn’t count if the gamer isn’t actively playing or moving in the game environment. These rules create a fair and balanced template for the future, ensuring brands get great placement in virtual environments and developers get compensated fairly for their contribution.
Frameplay is ahead of the curve
Our Intrinsic Time-in-View attention metric was up and running well before these guidelines were ratified by the IAB. We’ve had time to refine and improve our SDK well before they became the industry standard, so we are very uniquely positioned to help brands and developers thrive with intrinsic in-game ads.
One example from the IAB’s 2.0 Guidelines that shows this is Occlusion Determination. They define it as “an instance where the In-Game ad unit is blocked from view either totally or partially during game play, and therefore the User’s opportunity to see the creative is diminished.” Occlusion is not a mandatory measurement, but Frameplay’s capability includes occlusion detection. It’s another instance of our team identifying and implementing the best practices for gamers, developers and brands instead of waiting for the industry to catch up.
If you’re still asking why we need this much regulation and understanding around intrinsic in-game ads, consider this stat from the IAB guidelines: 227 million US adults spend an average of over 12 hours per week gaming, yet US ad spend in gaming is still less than 6% of total digital ad spend. Intrinsic in-game ads are the best way to respect the gamer’s playtime, build revenue for developers, and give brands access to a thriving ad environment with engaged viewers. The IAB’s new guidelines draw clear lines for all the players involved and set us up for a future of premium gaming with compelling creative advertisements that enhance the experience.